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Early Pantoum: SFO International Airport, 1992

I buried my face in my hands

and left it there. When my body rose

to pass through customs gate,

life fell back to normal proportions,

and I left. When nobody rose

to follow us through, I sighed,

because life felt normal. Proportional:

mom, dad, brother. Our luggage

followed us through. I lost sight

of the relatives waving from the gate

at mom, dad, brother, our luggage.

I felt strangely unburdened

by the relatives waving. From the gate,

I turned for a final glance,

felt unburdened at last. The strangeness

of American supermarkets.

Turning, I took a final glance

at that unfamiliar world

of American supermarkets.

I was headed home, though

that too felt unfamiliar.

Soon I’d take on new customs,

headed home, though there too,

I’d have to bury my face.

from Isako IsakoFind more by Mia Ayumi Malhotra at the library

Copyright © 2018 Mia Ayumi Malhotra
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Mia Ayumi Malhotra Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.